The legend continues.
When we left our, our heroine Empress Zauditu was trying to prepare for Genghis Khan’s Mongol invasion!
Giant Mongol armies go wandering by as they fight the Byzantines. Mongols basically ignore attrition, so they can form huge armies compared to normal powers.
However, old age catches up to the great Khan and he dies, leaving Ogodei in charge. Ogodei is scary, but not quite as superhumanly awesome as his predecessor. So that’s something.
Hoping to encourage the Mongol Empire to fall apart, I try to kill the Khan. It’s a long shot, because Empress Zauditu sucks at intrigue.
She’s also in need of a new high-stewardship husband. A gift entices Avomai of Lais to my court where he is duly wed.
She still misses her beloved husband whats-his-name though.
The Mongols win their war against the Byzantines and grab a huge chunk of territory on my northern border. They don’t seem inclined to come for me, though, immediately starting another war against the Indians.
Meanwhile, the Byzantines are ruled by a new Basileus, Meletios the Lewd, who wears a creepy mask to conceal a facial deformity and is heavily scarred, but still apparently a master seducer?
My old rival, Agathe the Terrible, apparently died of pneumonia.
Uh-oh. I guess I couldn’t dodge the killer nun forever. Chess it is, then!
Checking out her stats, I notice she counts as my courtier?! I quickly arrange a marriage between Death-Nun and my bastard cousin Loua while the chess game is in progress.
We should hurry up so you can get to your wedding!
Eugenia and Loua are happily married! I would say that was a quick wedding, but by the game clock what happens is that the chess game takes about two weeks.
Zauditu tries to cheat Death.
She draws the line at betting the life of her daughter, though. Who needs an extra queen?
I do, apparently. Damn. Long live Empress China!
Shortly after this, I get the message “Eugenia vanished without a trace.” Poor cousin Loua is heartbroken.
At least Empress China doesn’t need a regency. She’s still trying to kill Khan Ogodei, and sets about preparing for the inevitable vassal revolt. The vassals basically need to be taught a sharp lesson once per reign, I feel like.
The Calpih is attacking the Mongols, which doesn’t strike me as a tremendously smart move, but what do I know?
In spite of the efforts of my spymaster, vassal factions are reaching the boiling point.
One of the more powerful ones has apparently acted dishonorably toward me. I couldn’t tell you how, but it gives me the chance to lock him up. He rebels, of course, but hopefully it weakens the faction.
Nope. Now I have two separate wars, one against a vassal rebellion and one against breakaway Mesopotamia.
I finish Mesopotamia first, then work on the revolt.
A rather good multiple convergence smashes the main rebel army.
Unfortunately, Empress China is now possessed by the devil, which people find a little off-putting.
It’s like every couple of decades, “Look out, here they come again!”
Pope War VI: Return of the Pope.
I’ve got the rebels on the ropes, but Papal armies are already landing in Beirut.
Soon the Holy Land is once again crawling with Christians. I gather my forces to crush the last rebel army and knock them out of the war.
Then we get some … weird mechanics. I’m at 100% warscore, which should allow me to win the war immediately. However, the rebels have their own rebellion, and they’ve occupied some castles, which blocks me from declaring victory. (I think because if I did, the rebellion faction would disappear.)
So, I have to go find the rebels’ rebels and crush them too. Come on, people, I have Christians to fight!
At least we’re getting the succession going.
Finally. Everyone goes to jail where they won’t cause any trouble, and I can concentrate on hunting down annoying crusaders.
Hurrah! Another potential empress, named for her grandmother.
Christians are seriously worse than bedbugs.
Slowly cleaning them out, though more keep arriving by ship.
Empress China has acquired the nickname “the Bewitched”, presumably as a reference to being possessed and not the old sitcom. She’s doing pretty well, less martial than her mother but a better steward. Still not much of an intriguer, though. Her husband/kidnap victim seems to have acclimated to his situation.
Better luck next time, Pope Marinius IV the Holy!
The high priest retaliates by calling a holy war for Aragon, which is owned by the grandson of my old ally King Jacques the Monster. I sense this will go poorly. But my vassals eagerly sign on!
Yeah, this is the problem with the whole Great Holy War thing. See Kaiser Arnulf of Francia on the list?
Yeah, Francia’s pretty big. Not eager to take them on.
Also, Ireland is now called Eire and continues to take over England.
Obviously, if I get the chance to name a puppy Satan, I’m going to name it Satan.
Judaism continues to spread throughout the empire, mixed in with various Muslim heresies.
My plot to kill the Khan is going nowhere. I strip some titles from my various rebellious vassals, though I leave the viceroys with their kingdoms, since I get those back when they die. Annoyingly, they take a long time to die. Can’t I just forget to feed them?
King Desta of Mesopotamia hates me (possibly because I threw his father in prison?) and is working on fomenting another revolt. I decide to have him killed.
Good for you, Empress China! Whatever gets you through the day.
Khagan Ogodei is old and infirm, so he doesn’t look like he’ll be a threat anytime soon. Plus he’s still at war with the Byzantines.
Basileus Meletios, on the other hand, has been severely weakened by a revolt. My threat has dropped low enough that I can fight him without fighting everyone else, so time to grab some more Byzantine territory!
Holy war for Aleppo! (Not to get topical, but it’s always weird seeing the same names in CK2 that you sometimes see on the news…)
The Kaiser’s wife just … dropped by? Um. Sure, sounds good to me!
Sadly I can’t convince Kaiser Arnulf to actually form an alliance with me, which is too bad because literally nobody could stop us.
The war goes pretty badly for the Byzantines.
The Mongols have a new Khagan, who is not nearly as threatening as the last two. They’re actually looking pretty weak now.
Victory is mine! But a couple of adventurer armies are incoming.
I’m a bit surprised by this, I thought we’d seen the last of them…
While I can’t attack the Byzantines again for a while, I take advantage of yet another revolt to zerg-rush some territory in the east off the revolt faction.
I am not shocked. Honestly I’m a little more concerned by the nearly 30,000 men who just marched out the Sahara desert to come fight me…
I do need a doctor…so let’s hire the crazy sorcerer! I like that logic.
I muster to fight the first adventurer army, while the second one lands on the northern coast and Orthodox peasants revolt. Another typical week for Empress China.
The, uh, “pope” is helping me poison this guy?
At least he died. Rabbis get shit done.
Unfortunately the new king now hates me just as much.
Well. We know how to deal with that.
His wife is willing to get in on the assassination action, for a suitable consideration.
Hilariously, I can now imprison my “pope” friend for his role in the old king’s death.
Glad to see Empress’ can get in on these hunting trysts as well.
Princess Zauditu has grown up rowdy and willful, so we’re going to teach her about war.
I like it. Stick with what works.
Man, I should have sent a rabbi.
Didn’t we try that, like, yesterday?
“I know Empress China tried to kill me yesterday, but who could be behind this attempt?!”
The new king is nine. He kind of dislikes me for murdering his father (more accurately, for trying to, since he doesn’t know I succeeded) but he’s not my rival, so I let him live.
Israel has grown large! But so have my ambitions. I think my new goal is to take Constantinople and try to get all of Anatolia under my rule.
Judaism now completely dominates Egypt and the Horn of Africa.
There’s a new Basileus in town, David the Holy, which means the truce is off. And my threat has ticked down far enough that the Byzantines have left the alliance against me. You know what that means.
Holy war time! ?Holy War theme song plays? I push north from the random county I acquired toward Constantinople.
This time the Byzantines put up more of a fight, and we have some pretty epic battles.
Poor Satan. *sniff* What a good dog.
I could build him a pyramid! It costs a fortune, though.
I’m busy, dammit! The Byzantines managed to pull off a victory and I need to beat them down. Can’t you jihad some other time?
Oh. Never mind. (Capturing the enemy monarch means instant victory.) I guess you can go ahead and jihad after all!
Getting closer. I march my armies off to meet the Muslim invasion.
Don’t you hate it when you throw a jihad and nobody shows up?
Can’t go wrong with leeches!
Maybe it’s the fact that I’m covered in leeches, but I just don’t feel sexy anymore.
Princess Zauditu turned out nicely! Now to
capture find her a husband.
Hey, there’s actually a decent guy in the kingdom for once! Guards, fetch him immediately!
Not cancer after all? Or did the leeches do the trick?
Most of the Shia states are far away, up in the Russian steppe, so their armies trickle in very slowly. My guys wait around and draw straws for who gets to smack them when they show up.
Better luck next time, Caliph Mahmud II the Fat!
The steppe is kind of a mess, actually. The Mongols have a breakaway state called Khotan apparently, but they’ve also got a big chunk of territory down in India.
Meanwhile, the King of Italy has somehow taken over the Kingdom of Ireland!
With a truce still to run with the Byzantines and threat still high, Empress China decides to try for five years of peace. Historically my success rate for this is not high.
The King of Mesopotamia has come of age but still isn’t fond of me. Only three more years before he forgets about me murdering his dad though!
A dilemma. I could make him spymaster, which would improve his attitude, but he’d still be pretty angry. But he’d be so good at it! I decide to refrain for now.
Prince Yacob, the only other child of Empress Zauditu, embraces the religious life. Since Empress China has a bunch of children, he’s unlikely to inherit.
In spite of the whole dad-murder thing, King Tariku is willing to stop plotting against me if asked politely.
Shockingly, five years actually pass relatively uneventfully! The realm prospers!
Plus, now my truce with the Byzantines has expired, and my threat has fallen low enough that they aren’t part of the alliance anymore! You know what that means …
Hmm. Gonna wait just a little bit longer, until they get this revolt worked out. I don’t need a three-sided conflict confusing matters.
Empress China needs a new husband, and she settles on Kifle Gideon, a distant cousin with a military genius nearly on par with Genghis Khan.
Annoyingly, a gang of vassals is hovering just at the edge of the danger zone.
But the revolt is over! ?Holy War theme song?
Israelite armies are quickly laying siege to everything in sight.
I lose more stewards that way…
Victory! Basileus David’s wife has donned the creepy mask of shame.
We’re now literally at the gates on Constantinople. Unfortunately, vassal revolt seems imminent.
Somehow, though, they never quite tip over the edge into rebellion. I bring King Tariku in as spymaster, which placates him and gives me access to his 21 intrigue, and he gets to work digging up dirt on the others.
You’d think the size of my empire would dissuade these guys.
Fun fact: my previous spymaster, Anaudat the Unfaithful, was actually the wife of the last adventurer, who was hanging around unemployed while her husband languished in jail.
My heir, Countess Zauditu, is pretty formidable, but has no children at age thirty. Once again I need a “nag your kids for grandchildren” button. Fortunately, she has four brothers, so I start making sure any of their daughters are in safe marriages.
Is that, like, relevant? Or just … a thing?
Sadly the mighty Kifle died fairly quickly. Husbands, man. Deciding to go for a diplomat, I invite Bustenai of Zagreb to my court for completely non-sinister reasons.
Moms: never gonna stop correct their sons’ table manners.
This is excellent. I wish Empress China weren’t already so old.
There’s a new Basileus. Visarion, I like it, very Game of Thrones. But he’s still part of the alliance, so we can’t hit him yet.
Arnault’s little war goes real badly for him when he finally gets around to launching it.
Aha! Not only has Visarion left the alliance, but he’s fighting three wars at once. Seems like an excellent time for …
?Holy War theme song? Constantinople here we come.
Once again, “asking politely” proves an effective tactic for getting vassals to stop conspiring, even King Dawit the Tormentor.
Israelite armies lay siege to Thrace.
While the war is in progress, Empress China decides it’s time to do some gardening. She’s an old woman now, you have to keep busy!
Drogon Visarion surrenders without me even smashing all his castles. Fine with me.
Constantinople comes with cool unique walls, which apparently didn’t help them much. Normally I redistribute my conquests to vassals, but I’m keeping this one.
Duke Mamo, what did I just say?
Still no children from Countess Zauditu, my heir. I suggest that she start sleeping around, it worked out for Mom.
The Mongols are steadily weakening.
Wait, why does he have ten normal children and one crazy-eyes one?
At this point, Empress China is now the longest surviving monarch in the history of the Gideons, as well as easily the most prestigious. She is brave, wroth, diligent, trusting, ambitious, possessed, a gardener, a kinslayer, a poet, and has the “lover’s pox”. Aside from non-breeding heir Zauditu, she also has four sons, and her brother (possibly half-brother? Mom was getting around at that point) is Grandmaster of Zealots.
Uh oh. Malaise!
That … seems plausible.
Pretty sure that’s not how you treat gout. But it sounds delicious!
Delicious and effective!
New Basileus! But he’s still part of the alliance, so we have to wait.
Great Holy War for where? Why are we always attacking the most random places?
That’s a long fucking walk. And I’m sure it’s just cold and wet there. You guys have fun.
Meanwhile, Ireland and England are a mess. The Kingdom of Ireland exists again, but Italy still holds most of the territory? Weird stuff going down.
Things are pretty peaceful in Israel, though. Even the vassals have stopped kicking up a fuss.
The realm grows ever-larger! Next step is to clean the Byzantines and Mongols out of Anatolia to make everything nice and contiguous again.
Current Year: 1286 AD. Current Status: Tidying Up.